photo of beekeeper with three square images of beekeeper tending to bees

Becoming a Beekeeper with Steven Kan

As an “accidental beekeeper” who got his start in beekeeping after a chicken coop infestation, Steven Kan has learned over the years that becoming a beekeeper is more than just putting on a bee suit and diving into the swarm to yield some honey.

Through trial, error, and plenty of beekeeping videos, Steven learned the Importance of Bees, the Bee Pollination crisis, and just how important bee-safe insecticides are for gardens everywhere.

See Steven’s first-hand experience of becoming a beekeeper in this beekeeping video.

“I read a bunch of books about bees and thought, “Wow! These are really amazing little creatures! And I just gave them away!” Three years later, another swarm infested the exact same wall three feet over. So I called the same beekeepers for assistance with another cutout, but I told him I wanted to keep the bees this time.”

-Steven Kan

Since his humble beginnings, Steven’s gone on to make his own beekeeping videos on his youtube channel for novice and experienced beekeepers alike to enjoy, like this BeeCam showing the busy buzzing life of our favorite fuzzy little pollinators.

We sat down with Steven to learn more about his journey to becoming a beekeeper. He shared with us what surprised him the most in his time as a beekeeper, common bee misconceptions, how bees can help your garden, and what you can do to help them in return, whether you’re learning to become a beekeeper, or simply just want to #savethebees.

Without further ado, meet Steven Kan!

Q+A with Steven Kan

OL: What's the most surprising thing you've learned about bees?

SK: The most surprising thing I’ve learned about bees is how calm they can be under the correct circumstances. During my regular inspections of my hives, the bees just go about their business building wax cells, tending young larvae, storing food, etc. The queen will even lay eggs, all while the large alien invader disassembles their home, exposes it to the light, and rearranges the furniture on them.

OL: What is the most satisfying element of being a beekeeper?

SK: Educating the public is the most satisfying element of being a beekeeper, especially during swarm season (See interview question #4 for reference). Many people find the very presence of a bee in their midst to be a terrifying situation, and seeing a cluster of 10,000 bees can be panic-inducing. But watching people watch me coax the bees gently into a box and seeing how their perception changes from panic to fascination is very satisfying.

OL: What can the average gardener do to help protect or propagate these creatures?

SK: The average gardener can help bees by reducing and modifying their pesticide use. Bees will forage in a radius of 1-2 miles around their hive, which equates to 2,000-8,000 acres! So, the amount of bee-friendly plants in one backyard garden is not going to amount to much of a difference in the life of an average hive. But some “systemic” pesticides can be carried back to the hive by worker bees and thus affect the entire colony.

Neonicotinoid pesticides (aka neonics) are suspected as a major cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and should be avoided where possible. Note that neonics have their appropriate uses, such as imidacloprid as a flea control agent in products such as Advantage. However, there’s a huge difference between putting a drop on the back of your pet’s neck and carpet bombing your garden with a pesticide of mass destruction.

Pro Tip For Protecting the Bees: Use a Garden Safe Insecticide like ORGANOCIDE® BEE SAFE Insect Killer, the only insect killer proven safe for bees!

OL: What is the most common misperception about bees, and what is your response to that?

SK: If one bee is scary, then 10,000 bees are terrifying!

A “reproductive swarm” happens when a honeybee colony is doing very well in its springtime quest to store enough food for the coming winter. When a hive gets chock full of honey, bees, and developing larvae, the crowding will trigger a “swarming” impulse, and the worker bees will start raising new queen bees.

When the new queens are very close to emerging from their cells, the old queen and half the bees will leave the hive in a giant cloud and venture off in search of a new cavity to inhabit. En route, they will bivouac and cluster in an extremely inconvenient place, such as a tree limb, mailbox, rear-view mirror, etc. This hanging ball of 10,000 bees will induce panic amongst nearby humans. But bees in a swarm ball are normally “not” defensive, as they have no home to defend, and they’re just waiting for their scouts to find a new location.

A beekeeper can interrupt this process by providing the bees with a hive box, and they’ll happily march right in! Here’s a short beekeeping video I made two years ago in Redondo Beach. By the end of the video, I had people walking right up to the box to watch the bees up close! Here’s another beekeeping video of a beginner beekeeper (not me!) being coaxed to run his hand right through the center of a swarm ball without getting stung once.

OLI: How does your garden benefit from pollinators?

SK: Most flowering plants can benefit from an abundance of pollinators, so fruit trees and vegetables will produce better when more bees are nearby!

What You Can Do to Support the Bees

Considering the fact that one single bee colony can pollinate up to 300 million flowers each day, you realize the importance of bees within the ecosystem extends far beyond the production of honey.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a beekeeper yourself or simply want to contribute to the movement to protect the bees by Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Garden, one of the best steps you can take is to ditch the harmful garden pesticides and opt-in for a garden-safe insecticide instead.

Organic Labs ORGANOCIDE® BEE SAFE 3-in-1 Organic Garden Spray is a triple-action insecticide, fungicide, and miticide specially formulated from natural oils to kill pesky insects and protect your plants from disease, all without negatively affecting pollinators. You can find these garden safe products at your local store today and start supporting pollinators right at home!

See What’s Buzzing on Social Media

At Organic Labs, we’re committed to providing you with organic pest control solutions and helpful videos to help your garden thrive. Visit us on Facebook and Instagram to see how others use our environmentally and pollinator-friendly garden products to help #savethebees!

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